DALLAS - Following big victories in Arizona and Nevada, the Canadiens have a prime opportunity to sweep their three-game road trip on Saturday night.
For that to happen, though, they have to best a Dallas Stars squad that is playing exceptionally good hockey right now.
Heading into the game at the American Airlines Center, the Stars have won two in a row and five of their last six contests.
No doubt besting Jim Montgomery's club on road ice would make the Habs' return flight to Montreal all the more enjoyable.
"We knew this was going to be a tough road trip. This is an opportunity we don't want to let go by. I think everyone in the League is desperate for points. I know it's pretty early on, but I think everyone has an idea, especially with what we went through last year, how close it was. You don't want to let any points slip," said assistant captain Brendan Gallagher, who was named the recipient of the Molson Cup for October shortly before the morning skate. "We've had a good couple of games, but it can go from a good road trip to a great road trip. That's our goal for tonight. We want to make it a great one and go home feeling good about ourselves."
To accomplish that objective, the Canadiens have to take full advantage of the fact that the Stars were in action on Friday night in Colorado and flew home immediately after the game.
It's imperative that Julien's group bring the intensity come puck drop and capitalize on some possible opposition fatigue.
"The last couple of games, we've started really well. It's important tonight, not only being the final game of the road trip, but knowing that they played last night and travelled in. It's our responsibility to be skating early and ensure that they know that it's going to be a tough game speed-wise," insisted defenseman Jeff Petry, referencing early first-period goals the Canadiens scored against the Coyotes and Golden Knights, respectively, earlier in the week. "That carries momentum throughout the game. It's important for what we need to do. We don't want to start off slow and then have to get our legs going later to play catch-up. If we dictate the pace early on, that's when we're at our best."
Make no mistake about it, your Canadiens are a solid road team. Their 4-1-2 record away from the friendly confines of the Bell Centre is a good indication of that.
Why is that the case? Gallagher has a theory.
"We've got a lot of character. Really all it is on the road is playing smarter hockey and not really giving them any chances to get their crowd engaged. You don't want to hand them anything," explained Gallagher. "We should enjoy that opportunity to play on the road. You come in and kind of silence the building, especially a building like this one where it can get going pretty good."
For his part, Julien expects his players to come out of the dressing room firing on all cylinders after being given the day off on Friday.
"We have an opportunity to be fresh and ready. If we can take advantage of the situation and get off to a good start, it should help us," said Julien. "It's important that we get our legs under us here and get good jump, and not just from the start, but throughout the whole game. This is a team that's been playing much better of late, so it's important for us to understand we have a chance to come home with three wins and that would be a huge boost for us."